Before we begin, here’s a trailer for you to watch.
I first saw this book at the Calgary Comic Entertainment Expo when I met Jo-Anne and her kids. Jo Anne seemed very friendly, and her kids were awesome. We managed to keep in touch and with the release of Aberrant, I asked Jo-Anne if she wanted to be interviewed. She agreed. I talk to Jo-Anne about her books, her influences, covers and ADHD.
Joshua Pantalleresco: Why did you become an author? Who influenced you?
Jo-Anne Sieppert: My head has always been full of stories, I felt like if I didn’t get them out my head would explode. Once I started writing, there was no way to stop. My biggest influences are, William Shakespeare, JK Rowling, Stephen King and Stephanie Myers.
JP: Which Shakespeare stuff in particular? I was always partial to Shakespeare’s tragedies. And I just love The Tempest. What are you favorites with him?
JS: It’s the tragedies for me also. Romeo and Juliet is my favorite.
JP: What are you writing right now?
JS: Right now I am writing the second book in the Aberrant series, while editing the third in the Nytstars series, and writing the fourth Nytstars.
JP: I just did my first workshop with you. You say the characters come up to you and talk to you when you’re writing. That’s intriguing. Can you explain your general process with writing?
JS: I mostly write a night, I like the darkness and total quiet. I just open my mac and start writing. No plan, no outline, nothing. I write my stories the same way as reading them, one word at a time, it’s just as exciting to see it come together.
JP: You use no plan or outline. Wow. What about the ending? Does there get a point when you have an idea where the story goes? Or do not find out until the very end?
JS: Usually I find out the ending at the end as I write it. However, I do already know how the final Nytstars will end. That one came to me halfway through writing the second book.
JP: That’s a pretty cool way to come up with something like Nytstars. So are you writing those books in particular for your kids?
JS: Nytstars is definitely for my kids, and all kids really, anyone that has had nightmares.
JP: In Nytstars, are Tyler and Michael in any way inspired by your kids?
JS: The characters, Michael and Tyler are 100% inspired by my two sons, Michael and Tyler. Tyler was the main inspiration for Nytstars, he suffered from terrible nightmares since he was very young. He would tell me what he was afraid of and I would tell him a story of him defeating his fear. Eventually I started writing the stories down, and Nytstars took off from there.
JP: When is Nytstars book 2 coming out?
JS: I’m not too sure to be honest. I am going to re-release the first one, (next year) so the second will come out 9-12 month’s after that.
JP: Okay. we talked about Nytstars a bit here, now tell me a little bit about Aberrant.
JS: Aberrant came to me when Houseboating in the Shuswap. I am not a camping, rough-in it type of girl, at all!!! But it was such a beautiful place. I was sitting on the sun deck watching the sun set on our first night on the boat. The idea came to me and just started writing, the next thing I knew, I was watching the sun rise, and Aberrant was born.
JP: You told me where Aberrant comes from. Now tell me what it’s about.
JS: Aberrant is a modern day Stephen King’s Carrie, with a Twilight twist. Not Vampires, though. Delilah is a young girl who gets bullied. She seeks refuge on an island that the small town she lives in surrounds. On the island she meets Jack. When the bullies kill Delilah, Jack brings her back. Not to life per say, just back. Jack is Aberrant – think Vampires without the blood. Now Delilah wants her revenge on the bullies.
JP: Why are all your teachers evil? I’ve noticed that trend in your work so far.
JS: I didn’t have a very good experience in school. Being diagnosed with Dyslexia and undiagnosed with ADHD, I was labeled a bad kid, I’m sure I lived up to the title. Most of my experiences with my teachers were not good.
JP: Can you tell me a little bit about your cover work. I really like it for Aberrant in particular. Can you explain where the idea for that cover came from?
JS: I get a vision of what the covers should look like as I am writing, I really enjoy designing the covers, whether I actually do the final cover myself or just send the idea to an artist. The cover for Aberrant just came to me one day. The hands symbolize Jack aka Art, the frozen rose symbolizes Aberrants, because they only age to a certain point then they are frozen.
JP: Consequently, Nytstars is an amazing book with a not so amazing cover. Can you tell that story?
JS: The Nytstars cover did not go as planed. My publisher sent me a terrible cover, the characters on the cover did not resemble the characters from the book what so ever. I was given a very short time line to come up with my own new cover or I would have to use the one they did. I hired an artist who sent me a rough sketch, then seemed to disappear of the face of the earth. So I did the best I could with what I had and created my own cover. Drawing is not a skill of mine, obviously lol. Now I am having another cover designed by a new artist, and the book is being rereleased
JP: You’ve done Nytstars through traditional publishing and you’ve done a few books on your own. What do you like about both routes? What do you wish was different?
JS: I didn’t have a very good experience with publishing Nytstars traditionally. The publisher didn’t really do anything at all for me. Except print the book. Self-publishing I am in complete control, and I like that. I want to be the one to say what it will look like in the end, it’s my story. I am sure there are better traditional publishers out there, and I would be willing to try that route again. I would really like to find a way to publish that I didn’t have to front all the money, but I still have control. I want my cake, and to eat it too, but really, don’t we all?
JP:You don’t just write fiction, but non fiction as well. Can you tell me about your book Distracting the Distractions?
JS: Distracting the Distractions I wrote to help people understand ADHD. I was diagnosed with ADHD at 22 and my youngest son was diagnosed at 5. I found out quickly that not only do many people not understand what it is, but they have very strong opinions of how to deal with it. I wanted to give a real understanding of what ADHD is, and how it effects someone.
JP: Did Distracting The Distractions accomplish your goal? What did you learn about it writing it?
JS: I have had many people say that Distracting the Distractions did help them to understand ADHD, that it opened their eyes and made them look more closely at what is best to help their child. Which makes me happy that I could help someone, simply by doing what I love to do.
JP: What advice would you give writers?
JS: My advise to other writers, is follow your own path, what works for someone else, may not work for you. You have to stay true to your stories, they came to you for a reason, you wrote them the way you wrote them, for a reason, don’t edit them to death, edit them to life. And most importantly, if you were born to write, then write. Don’t let anyone, including your own inner terrorist stand in your way. You can’t write, wrong.
JP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JS: Thank you Joshua for giving me the opportunity to share about my work and myself. I really enjoy connecting with other writers and artists.
You can find out more about Nytstars and Distracting the Distractions at Jo-Anne’s webpage: http://jo-annesieppert.com. As for Aberrant, you can purchase the ebook here right now. Jo-Anne’s fiction are fun reads, for the kid, and kids at heart. I can’t recommend them enough.